Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Record Note of discussions held in the Brain Storming Session on Handloom Weavers — Assistance & Upgradation

Sub: Record Note of discussions held in the Brain Storming Session on Handloom Weavers — Assistance & Upgradation:
held under the chairpersonship of Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, on May, 2006, in Yojana Bhawan, New Delhi.
List of participants is annexed.
A brain storming session on handloom weavers — Assistance & Upgradation was held under the chairpersonship of Dr. S’yeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, to consider issues like:
• Hank yarn
• Enforcement of Handloom Reservation Order
• Credit data base/MIS on handloom sector
• Availability of credit
• Technology support
• Marketing support, and
• Other miscellaneous issues
Member (SH) welcomed all the participants to the meeting and thanked Shri B.N. Yugandhar, Member, Planning Commission, for sparing his valuable time for handloom weavers. She stressed upon the need to draw a clear picture from the brain storming session to provide major inputs to handloom weavers for assistance and upgradation. The Prime Minister had desired that a new direction need to be provided to the handloom sector so as to enable it to regain its past glory and improve the living conditions of weavers, most of whom were below the poverty line.
She further stated that her recent visits to Varanasi, Behrampur, Bhadhohi, etc, had given her an understanding of the ground level realities and the problems faced by the weavers. Most of the weavers were found to be living in very difficult conditions. The schemes/programmes under
implementation by various State Governments and Central Government were not showing the desired results and most of the weavers were unaware of these schemes.
All the participants were encouraged to enter into free and frank discussions and were free to come out with their feelings and suggestions. It was necessary to find out why funds were not reaching the targeted beneficiaries and why the desired outcome was not being achieved. She requested Member (BNY) to give his valuable suggestions for ameliorating the poor conditions of weavers.
Member (BNY) stated that he was happy to be present and thanked Member (SH) for giving him an opportunity to express his views for the betterment of weavers. About 40 years back the office of Development Commissioner of Handlooms was created at his instance when Shri P.N. Haksar was the Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission. That time also non-availability of credit facilities, inadequate inputs for marketing, use of old looms and technology, inadequate availability of hank yarn, etc, were the problems faced by handloom weavers. These were perennial problems of the handloom sector, which persisted even today. While similar problems for other sectors of our economy were provided with some sort of solutions, the problems of handloom sector had remained unsolved so far. He requested the participants to discuss threadbare all major problems affecting them and also to indicate probable solutions needed as per their perception.
Member (BNY) further suggested that as indicated in the background note circulated by the office of DC(Handlooms), it appeared that hank yarn was available to handloom weaver in sufficient quantity. However, ground reality dk’ not match with this scenario and even today small pockets of handloom weavers were unable to get hank yarn in desired counts, quality and quantity. The suggestion of Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, for subsidization of hank yarn could also be considered in this meeting to evolve suitable solution for the hank yarn problem.
Member (BNY) further mentioned that the Prime Minister had also stressed the need to find out solutions about the hank yarn problem. The credit requirement of the handloom sector was not more than Rs.10,000 to 15,000 crore, which could be met by providing credit cards to weavers. The credit requirement of handloom sector could be included under the District Credit Plan in the beginning and NABARD might be able to provide refinancing facilities. Modernisation of looms and equipment was necessary and could be done on priority basis. New designs could be introduced to enhance marketability of handloom products. To improve marketing also, there was need to provide further impetus and new inputs so as to enable handloom weavers to sell their products in domestic as well export markets. The state governments should take up the problem of enforcement of Handloom Reservation Act vigorously and it needed to be ensured that powerlooms did not encroach upon the handloom sector.
Member (BNY) further stated that if necessary fresh programmes/Plan schemes could be introduced in the Eleventh Plan so that the handloom weavers’ profession could be considered dignified and the present tendency of abandoning this age-old tradition due to economic hardship could be reduced. He desired that each weaver should be able to earn at least Rs.2,000-3,000 per month to come above the poverty line.
Member (SH) stated that deep concern of the Prime Minister about the handloom sector had given an opportunity to provide radical solutions for the handloom sector. The weavers from Varanasi could also discuss their problems particularly narrated during her visit so that probable solutions could be worked out. It could also be discussed whether more funds could be provided to handloom sector for their upliftment. It was also observed that the present schemes were not able to delivery the required benefits at the doors of the weavers. All participants could discuss the agenda items and also indicate probable solutions.
Adviser (I&VSE) welcomed all the participants and requested them to give their view on the agenda issues as well as their personal views and experiences and probable solutions so that the handloom sector could be
strengthened and living conditions of the weavers in particular could be improved significantly.
During the discussions, the following major issues emerged:
1. For smooth and effective implementation of developmental and promotional schemes/programmes for the upliftment of handloom weavers identity cards with photo were considered as being essential. These cards could indicate the condition of the weaver, number of looms, type of weaver products, quantity of hank yarn required in terms of quality and counts, his credit requirements, ration entitlement, health facilities, admission in vocational training institutions/ ITIs, etc. Further, the same card could be used for multiple purposes.
2. Weavers falling below the poverty line could be provided RED/Antyodaya cards so as to enable them to have their entitlement of ration at subsidized rates also through the same card.
3. The need for providing new designs, quality dyes, and measures for protection of weavers’ designs through IPRs, copyrights, patenting, etc, was emphasized.
4. The need for reducing import of Chinese silk was stressed. Such imports were reducing the marketability of handloom products in competition with powerlooms. Chinese silk was more suitable for powerlooms, thus enabling powerlooms to produce handloom items and designs at cheaper rates.
5. Non-availability of credit from financial institutions was identified as a problem facing the handloom sector. This created the dependence of handloom weavers on middlemen and master weavers. Such financial dependence in turn created the opportunity for exploitation of the actual weaver by the middlemen and master weavers. The need for credit facilities for handloom sector could be met by providing them credit from banks/FIs on terms similar to those given to agriculture sector. NABARD
could be provided the corpus by GOl to enable it to refinance the credit/loans from commercial banks provided to weavers. The difference between the normal rate of interest and the rate charged to the weavers could be subsidized by the GOl. The annual subsidy burden of such a scheme was estimated to not exceed Rs.250-300 crore annually.
6. The cooperatives inthe handloom sector were presently performing well but historical debts/loans were dragging them down. The cooperatives could be relieved from their historical debt burden by waiver/write off of old debts/loans. If required a revolving fund could be created for this purpose to provide relief to cooperatives on a case-to-case basis.
7. For better and effective implementation of developmental programmes/ schemes, groups of grassroot workers involving weavers, experts, activists, state/Central government, etc, could be mobilised. Convergence should be made effective by involving all departments related to weavers’ development. To enable the implementing agencies to get adequate flow of Plan funds it was suggested that the present system of canalising Plan funds through state government/district treasuries could be discontinued and the implementing agencies should get Plan funds directly from Central Govt.
8. The schemes could be run in weavers’ clusters/colonies on a need based assessment. Evaluation of such schemes to be carried by independent organizations.
9. As far as possible the schemes could be made simple to follow, which even an illiterate weaver could understand. The schemes should not be only under cooperatives but weavers working with master weavers could also be covered to ensure that the 85 per cent of weavers outside the cooperatives also benefit.
10. For effective implementation of developmental programmes/schemes, the Implementing Agency should also ensure that benefits reached only the handloom weavers and not powerloom workers.
11.The need of establishing market places/sales outlets for handloom weavers at district level was emphasized and state governments could set up such district level markets exclusively for weavers, enabling them to sell their products without involving middlemen/master weavers.
12.A mechanism could be created for the handloom sector to enable the handloom weavers to supply their products for domestic as well as export markets through a marketing organization. Handloom weavers could participate in the functioning of this organization by becoming shareholders and could enjoy the benefits of wider marketing and increased earnings.
13. The need for creating national level raw material bank and national hank yarn price information bureau was stressed upon by various participants so as to enable weavers to get the required quality and counts of hank yarn at reasonable prices even within the smaller concentrations of weavers. The National Handloom Development Corporation could be strengthened and more number of yarn depots could be established so that availability of hank yam improved in smaller pockets of weavers.
14. It was also suggested that a data base with respect to demand for hank yarn in terms of counts and quality for handloom clusters could be set up to enable NHDC to supply the required quantity and quality of hank yarn to handloom weavers within the smaller concentrations.
15.The price fluctuations of silk yarn was more disturbing to weavers and the need for a raw material bank was echoed by most of the participating weavers.
16.To ensure reasonable wages to weavers of handloom products, it was felt that a Wage Board like organization could be established for handloom sector. To ensure reasonable wages for weavers from master weavers was a difficult task as it involved market-oriented aspects and hence this issue would need further deliberations.
23. For modernisation and technological development it was suggested that weavers could be consulted before taking up such scheme on a large scale. Experts in the field could also be involved while formulating schemes for handloom sector.
24. It was suggested that financial aid and marketing support to master weavers could be given based on the number of weavers with I-cards that they employ.
25. It was suggested that the marketing events organized by office of Development Commissioner (Handlooms) should encourage sales of only 100% Handloom fabrics and no products from powerlooms should be exhibited.
26.The handloom sector has got distinctive disadvantages of unorganised nature and weak financial base. To enable the handloom sectOr to grow in tandem with the economy it was felt necessary that all weavers should be organised in such a manner so that they become a vibrant and economically viable segment.
27. It was proposed that to help old aged/handicapped/disabled weavers, an old-age pension along with adequate welfare measures could be provided to enable them to live peacefully at the fag end of their life.
Prof. Abhijit Sen, Member, Planning Commission joined the discussions at this stage and stated that the handloom sector was depicting long, glorious tradition of Indian culture and heritage. This sector would need support from the government so that it could grow in line with other sectors of the economy. The handloom sector would also need specific inputs in terms of new designs, assured quality raw material at reasonable prices, adequate technological inputs like improved looms, weaving methods, modern dyeing techniques and marketing support, etc. Referring to the suggestion of carrying out pilot projects in the handloom sector, he stated that it was necessary to take up massive promotional programme for the whole country in place of
17. It was felt unanimously by all participants that there was an acute need for establishing ‘label’ or ‘mark’ to distinguish handloom products from powerloom products. It was also deliberated that labeling should Indicate the quality of yarn used, blending of various fibres, qualities of fabrics, types of finishing, types of dyes, colour fastness, etc.
18.To enable e-marketing of handloom products it was necessary to make available information about handloom products of the manufacturing organization on websites with proper facilities of e-marketing. This aspect would be most important in terms of achieving higher export targets and spreading the reach and demand of handloom products overseas.
19. A directory indicating specialities of weavers, their capacities, number of looms, etc, need to be prepared.
20.Special schemes for women weavers would go a long way in encouraging higher and better contribution from women weavers/entrepreneurs and female members of weaver families.
21. It was proposed that Weavers’ Service Centres (WSCs) could be entrusted with the task of enforcing the Handloom Reservation Act. The present enforcement agencies are not having sufficient manpower for proper enforcement of the Act. Technical training should be provided extensively to all enforcement officials to enable them to distinguish between powerloom and handloom products.
22.To ensure reliable data collection system for building up of a strong data base for handloom sector it was suggested that the final year/second year students of the 6 IIHTs could be deployed for collecting the relevant data from handloom sector. A census of looms and handloom weaver could be conducted at village level through local panchayats and administrative bodies. This would be particularly relevant for carpet weavers in handloom sector.
concentrating upon a few pockets. The handloom sector has all the potential to grow as the weavers had the background of ethnic traditions, weaving techniques, designs, etc.
Adviser (I&VSE) stated that all the participants, especially weavers and activists from Varanasi had provided excellent practical suggestions. It was suggested that in consultation with the office of DC(Handlooms), these would be evaluated and specific programmes/scheme could be formulated for the Eleventh Plan, ensuring faster growth and development of handloom sector. He mentioned that the weavers below the poverty line would need to be provided with immediate measures like RED/Antyodaya cards, multipurpose I.Cards and facilities with respect to health insurance and education for their children. There was an .urgent need to provide schools for chldren of hand loom weavers in remote areas and public-private partnership could be encouraged.
Concluding the discussions, Member (SH) thanked the participants for providing valuable inputs and she assured them that in consultation with the office of DC(Handlooms) specific measures would be taken up. She was concerned about inadequate health facilities in weavers’ concentrations around Varanasi, Bhadohi, Behrampur, etc. In the next brainstorming session more attention could be focused on these aspects to elicit view for focusing on precise proposals that could be taken up in those areas by the office of DC(Handlooms), state governments, NGO and other organisations involved in the handloom sector.
The meeting ended with a vote of thanks to the chair

Planning Commission
(Village &Small Enterprises Division)
Sub:Brain Storming Session of Handloom Weavers on 16.05.2006 under the Chairpersonship of Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission at Yojana Bhavan, New Delhi
1) Dr. (Mrs.), Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission .. .in Chair
2) Shri B.N. Yugaridhar, Member, Planning Commission
3) Prof. Abhijit Sen, Member, Planning Commission
4) Ms. Gunjan Veda, Consultant to Member (SH), Planning Commission
5) Shri R.C. Jharntani, Adviser (1&VSE), Planning Commission
6) Shri S.G. Raoot, Jt. Adviser, Planning Commission
7) Shri Shashi Kant, Deputy Adviser, Planning Commission.
8) Dr. D.S. Gangwar, AddI. Development Commissioner (Handlooms), Ministry of Textiles, Udyog Bhavan, New Delhi 110011
9) Shri Satyam Sharda, it. Development Commissioner (Handlooms), Ministry of Textiles, Udyog Bhavan, New Delhi 110011
10) Shri Manoj Jam, DDC(HL). O/o Dev. Comm. (Handlooms), Mb Textiles, Udyog Bhavan, N .Delhi
II) Shri J.N. Singh, Textile Commissioner, O/o Textile Commissioner, New CGO Bldg., 48, New Marine Lines, Mumbal 20
12) Shri N.M. Mugadur, Jt. Textile Commissioner, O/o Textile Commissioner, New CGO Bldg..48, New Marine Lines, Mumbai 20
13) Shri V.K. Goyal, Managing Director, NHDC Ltd., Vikas Deep, Station Road, Lucknow
14) Shri Banarsi Bahadur Bharti, Dy. Director, O/o the Regional Textile Commissioner NOIDA, UP
1 5) Shri S.P. Singh, Dy. Director, Weaver’s Service Centre, Chowkaghat, Varanasi 22 1002
16) Ms. Harmeet Sarin, Programme Officer, ILO, IHC, Lodi Road, New Delhi
17) Shri Adarsh Kumar, AIACA, D-602, Chittranjan Park, New Delhi
18) Shri D. Jayaramiah, Director (Retd.), G-6, Plot No.21, CSR Apartments, Huda Complex. Saroon Nagar, Hyderabad 35
19) Shri G. Govarthana, H.No.17-32, C/O Murli Saree Emporium, Srinagar Colony. Dilsad Nagar, Hyderabad
20) Dr. (Ms.) Rolee Singh, Convener, PAHARUA, C 14/160, B-2, Shambhunath Singh Marg, Sonia, Varanasi, UP
21) Dr. Lenin, Converner, PVCHR, SA4/2A, Daulatpur, Varanasi, UP
22) Shri Tanveer Ahmed Siddique, i-i 9/66 Ban Bazar, P.S. Jaitpura, Varanasi
23) Shri Nizzamudin, Bunkar Colony, PVCR, i-I 1/89 Nati Emil, P.S. Jaitpura, Varanasi, UP
24) Shri Mustaq All, Village Deendayalpur, Dubkian, PS changepur, Varanasi, UP
25) Shri Siddique Hasan, Convenor, Bunkar Dsastakar Manch, SA4/2A, Daulatpur, Varanasi
26) Shri Kranti Bhushan, PAHARUA Jan Sangathan, Hinchanpur, Chaksundar Pur, Gyan Pur, Badohi, UP 221308
27) Shri Mayank Misra, Regional Manager, ICICI, LOMBARD, GIC Ltd., Birla Tower, 25, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi 110001
28) Shri Puneet Anand, ICICI , LOMBARD, GIC Ltd., Birla Tower, 25, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi 110001.